This month we have had the pleasure in working with the supremely talented John Whaite, Great British Bake Off winner and food writer and he has created this AMAZING gin spice clementine cake that seriously tastes as good as it looks…and it looks spectacular! This is a true show stopper and kicks off our top 5 ginny Christmas desserts that are sure to keep the Christmas spirit flowing!
Gin Spice Clementine Cake
with Lemon and Juniper Syrup and Cardamom Swiss Buttercream
For the cake
350g unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
415g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
6 large eggs
415g self-raising flour
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine salt
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp mixed spice
For the syrup
Juice of 1 lemon
125g caster sugar
4 cardamom pods
1 tsp juniper berries
1 dried bay leaf
For the buttercream
140g liquid egg white (or 4 large egg whites)
320g caster sugar
400g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
1 tsp ground cardamom
A selection of:
Dried orange slices
First boil the clementines. Stab them once or twice to prevent them exploding. Put them into a medium saucepan and submerge in water. Set over a high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a quick simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until soft. Remove the clementines from the water and blitz in a blender (I use my nutribullet) to a pulpy mush. Allow to cool completely.
While the clementines cool, make the syrup. Put the lemon juice into a small saucepan with the water and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar then add the cardamom pods, juniper berries and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and allow to infuse until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4.
For the cake, put the butter and sugar into the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer and beat until pale in colour and soft in texture – this should be lovely and fluffy. Add the clementine pulp and mix well – it may look curdled at this stage, but that’s completely fine. Add two eggs, mix those in, then add a third of the flour and mix that in. Repeat this process of alternating egg and flour, until the egg and flour are used up, and be sure to add the baking powder, salt and spices with the final inclusion of flour. Once you have a smooth cake batter, stop mixing.
Divide the cake batter between the cake tins which have been lined and greased, and level out – I use a small crank-handled spatula, but the back of a spoon would be just as useful. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and drizzle them, fairly liberally, with the syrup. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
When the cakes have cooled, remove them from the tins and pop them into the fridge – this will just help to firm them up and make it that bit easier to ice.
Clean out the medium saucepan and the bowl of the freestanding electric mixer.
The buttercream is fairly technical, but keep calm, have a sip of gin if that’s your thing, and follow these instructions carefully. First put about 4cm water in the medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and let the water gently simmer. Next put the egg white and sugar together into the clean bowl of the freestanding electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment from the mixer, gently stir together the eggs and sugar, and set the bowl over the pan of barely simmering water. You must not stop stirring at this stage, but don’t stir too vigorously – the aim here isn’t to aerate the mixture, but to warm it up without cooking the eggs – if the eggs do curdle, you will have to start again, so be gentle. Once the mixture is runny and feels hot on the finger, set the bowl onto the freestanding electric mixer and whisk on full speed, using the whisk attachment, for ten minutes.
After ten minutes of whisking, the mixture will be a very thick and very glossy meringue. Keep the mixer running on full speed and add the butter very slowly – I add a cube, let it become fully mixed into the meringue, then add the next. This cannot be rushed, so grab a cocktail and enjoy it. As you add the butter the meringue will seem to deflate into a thick paste, but don’t worry, because as you add the rest of the butter it will eventually thicken again. When you’ve added all of the butter, continue whisking until you have a very thick buttercream. Add the cardamom and whisk that in fully.
To assemble, set one slice of cake onto a cake stand and spread it with a layer of buttercream. Repeat with the other two slices of cake. Spread more buttercream around the sides of the cake, getting it as straight as possible – use a small crank-handled palette knife. I like to leave little bits of cake peering through the buttercream – a naked cake. Load the remaining buttercream into the piping bag. Pipe blobs or rosettes of buttercream on top of the cake, just around the outer edge. Finish by decorating with cinnamon sticks, figs, almonds, orange zest, cardamom pods and dried orange slices.
1: Preheat the oven to 180C.
2: Using a rolling pin and a plastic sandwich bag, crush the digestive biscuits into a fine crumb. Add to a bowl and combine with the sieved cocoa powder using a wooden spoon. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and then add to the biscuit mix. Combine with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to clump.
3: Lightly oil the base and sides of a 23cm spring form tin and then spoon the biscuit base into the tin. Using your fingers, press the biscuit mixture into the base and the sides of the tin until well covered. The sides don’t have to be particularly neat but ensure you have an even base about 5mm thick. Place in a preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove and place in the fridge to cool.
4: To make your cheesecake filling, add the mascarpone to a bowl and whisk to loosen. Add you double cream, orange juice and orange zest to the mascarpone and whisk until you have stiff peaks. Spoon the mixture into your biscuit case about 3/4 of the way up and use a spatula to level out the cheesecake mixture.
5: To make the jelly add the leaf gelatine to a bowl of cold water and set aside. In the meantime, combine the gin, orange juice and tonic in a bowl. Add 100ml of the gin mix to a saucepan and bring to the boil until steaming. Using your fingers, strain the water from the leaf gelatine and add to the saucepan, stirring until the leaf gelatine have completely dissolved. Sieve back into the remaining gin mixture and leave to cool completely.
6: Once cooled, slowly spoon the liquid over the cheesecake and then place in the fridge for about 6 hours or overnight to set. Your cheesecake is then ready to serve.
You will need a good couple of hours to make this cheesecake, but don’t let that put you off. Most of the time is spent waiting for the layers to set. I would strongly advise preparing this the day before serving as you don’t want to risk having a runny jelly. Serve with a large G&T with a slice of orange.
400g of Digestive Biscuits
180g of Butter
50g of Cocoa Powder
250g of Mascarpone
400ml of Double Cream
50ml of Orange Juice
Zest of 2 Oranges
5 sheets of Leaf Gelatine
100ml of your favourite craft gin (preferably a citrus led one)
100ml of Tonic Water
200ml of Orange Juice
Gin Apple Pie
1. Start by making the ice cream by combining the sugar, 200ml of the cream, liquorice and gin to a pan and set over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the liquorice has melted. If the mixture begins to thicken before the liquorice has set, add a splash of double cream. Once the liquorice has melted and the mixture is the consistency of treacle, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2. While the liquorice mixture is cooling, add rest of the double cream and condensed milk to a free standing mixer and whisk until combined. Once the liquorice mixture has cooled, slowly pour it into the cream while still whisking until soft peaks form.Transfer into an airtight container and freeze for six hours.
3. To make the pie filling, add the apples, gin, lemon juice, flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and liquorice root to a large bowl and stir. Set aside whilst you make the pastry case, allowing the apples to soak up the gin.
4. To make the pastry case, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until well combined, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Mix in the flour until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough. Tip out the pastry onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until the dough is smooth. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
5. Whilst the dough is chilling, make the streusel topping by crushing up the ginger snap biscuits into a fine crumb. Combine with the sugar and flour and then add the melted and chilled butter. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then set aside.
6. When you are ready to construct the pie, preheat the oven to 180C.
7. Once the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface until the dough is the thickness of a £1 coin. Use a knife to cut out a circle of dough that is about half an inch wider than the bottom of your tart tin. Carefully place the dough in the base of the tin and cut any excess off the top.
8. Spoon the apple fillingand the majority of the liquid into the crust, removing the cloves and liquorice root. Sprinkle over the crumble topping and then place the pie onto a large baking tray. Loosely cover the pie with foil and then place in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the tin foil and then bake for a further 5 minutes or until golden brown on top.
9. Remove the pie from the oven and then allow to cool slightly before serving. Serve with a generous scoop of the homemade liquorice ice cream.
Non-churn Liquorice Ice Cream
150g hard Liquorice
300g Condensed Milk
600ml of Double Cream
8 tbsp of Light Brown Muscovado Sugar
3 tbsp gin
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (You can also use shop bought pastry)
200g Plain Flour
100g Unsalted Butter, chilled and cubed
70g Caster Sugar
3 Free-Range Egg Yolks
Apple Pie Filling
6 large Apples, peeled, cored and cubed
100ml of gin
20ml Lemon Juice
30g Plain Flour
100g Light Brown Sugar
1/4 Tsp of Ground Nutmeg
1 and 1/2 Tsp of Ground Cinnamon
1 sick of Liquorice Root
100g Ginger Thins
100g Light Brown Sugar
100g Plain Flour
80g Butter, melted and slightly cooled
Begin by making your parkin cake. Preheat the oven to 160C/ Gas 3. Grease a 23cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment.
Heat the butter, treacle and sugar in a saucepan until melted, then leave to cool. Sieve the flour and spices into a large bowl and add the porridge oats.
Whisk the egg and bicarbonate of soda with the milk and add to the dry ingredients, along with the treacle mixture. Pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for about an hour, until the cake is firm and gently bounces back to the touch.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Wrap in parchment and leave to rest for a week, or serve it warm straight away with the toffee sauce.
To make your toffee sauce, mix the water and sugar in a large saucepan until the mixture reaches a sandy consistency. Then melt over a medium-high heat along with the grapefruit peel and vanilla, whisking constantly so that it melts evenly.
Carefully add the butter – it will foam up quite a bit here – and whisk until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream.
Use a fork to remove the grapefruit peel and vanilla pod (be careful of the hot sugar!) and then mix in the gin, salt and bitters. Drizzle generously over your warmed-up parkin cake.
For the parkin
120g soft dark brown sugar
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
275g porridge oats
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the toffee sauce
200g brown sugar
Peel of 1 grapefruit
1 vanilla pod
180ml heavy cream
2-3 tbsp gin
6-8 drops grapefruit/orange bitters
1/2 tsp salt
Gin & Caramel Cake
Preheat the oven to 190C / 170C fan/gas 5. Grease and line three 20cm loose-bottom cake tins. You can bake this with only one tin, but it will triple your baking time. Meanwhile, leave your chopped dates to soak in the gin.
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and mix slowly to combine. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles sand. Then add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Add the treacle and mix until well combined. Add the milk and orange zest and beat together until the cake mixture is smooth. Strain the chopped dates and set the leftover liquid aside. Fold the dates into the cake mixture. Mix until the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for five minutes before leaving to cool on a wire rack. Level off the tops of the cake with a bread knife or a wire slicer.
Whilst the cakes cool, prepare the gin syrup. Add the leftover gin from the dates, along with caster sugar and orange juice, to a saucepan. Set over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and allow to boil for two minutes until the syrup has thickened slightly. Remove the syrup from the heat and brush over the top of the cakes using a pastry brush.
To make the frosting, whip the double cream and icing sugar until you have soft peaks. In another bowl, whip cream cheese and ground cinnamon until soft and fluffy. Slowly fold in the whipped cream and combine, making sure you don’t whip for too long.
When you are ready to construct your cake, place the first sponge on a cake decorating turntable or a cake stand. Add a generous amount of frosting to the bottom cake layer and level using a spatula. Top with the second layer and repeat. Add the third layer and smooth the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake using a spatula, leaving the sponge showing through to achieve the ‘naked’ look.
To make the caramel topping, add the caramel sauce and gin to a bowl. Mix well with a spoon until you have a smooth sauce that is slightly runny. Using a piping bag or spoon, drizzle the caramel sauce around the edge of the cake and allow it to drip down the sides. Use the remaining caramel sauce to cover the top of the cake.
Decorate the cake with meringue kisses and gingerbread Christmas trees of gingerbread men. These can be shop bought – I won’t tell if you don’t!
For the Sponge Cake:
400g plain flour
250g dark brown sugar
2 ½ tsp ground ginger
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tbsp bicarbonate of soda
225g unsalted butter, cubed
225ml whole milk
2 tbsp treacle
Zest of half an orange
½ tsp salt
100g chopped dates
25ml Batch Premium Gin
For the Gin Syrup:
25ml Batch Premium Gin
50g caster sugar
Juice of half an orange
For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
300g full-fat cream cheese
400g double cream
1tsp ground cinnamon
200g icing sugar
For the Caramel Sauce:
200g Bonne Maman Caramel Sauce
2 tbsp Batch Premium Gin